TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Sunday that Tehran is ready to negotiate with Europe over the Islamic republic's nuclear program if there were practical results.
The foreign minister's comments made at a conference on Iran's nuclear activities came just days after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared to rule out any nuclear negotiations with Europe saying the issue would only be discussed with the U.N. atomic watchdog agency.
"We have always supported negotiations that are purposeful, meaningful and effective," said Mottaki when he was asked if Iran was ready to negotiate Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy affairs chief.
Mottaki said negotiations could be in any fields including the West's wrongdoings such as "expansionism, invasion and occupation."
At the prodding of the U.S. and its European allies, the U.N. Security Council passed a third round of sanctions on Iran Monday ordering assets to be frozen of additional Iranian officials and companies with links to the country's nuclear and missile program, and for the first time banned trade with Iran in some goods that have both civilian and military use.
The U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France, along with Germany, however, also promised an improved package of incentives for Iran to restart negotiations with Solana if uranium enrichment is suspended.
Mottaki said that the new round of sanctions lacked "technical and legal," justification and would discredit the Security Council.
An IAEA report in February said that while Iran had cooperated in clearing up many of the past questions over its nuclear program, it had not responded properly to intelligence forwarded by the U.S. and its allies purportedly showing nuclear weapons technology.
Iran has dismissed the intelligence as fabricated and insisted the report vindicated its nuclear program and left no justification for any Security Council sanctions.